Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Pastoral Leadership in Stewardship

Bishop Al Gwinn, who is doing some great things in the North Carolina Conference, shared with me a study that was done in the West Ohio Conference related to the impact of pastoral leadership on the fair-share giving (apportionments) of a congregation. I found it interesting:

In the late 90’s Dr. Don House of the University of Texas ….had his graduate students run correlations on all the statistics of all the churches in the denominations to determine what were the critical factors in the payment of apportionments. The single biggest predictor of a church’s level of payment was its previous performance. This related directly to the pastor, i.e., the strongest correlation was to the pastor of the church. As the pastor moved, so did the apportionment payments. The second strongest correlation was with the district superintendent; the third was with the bishop.

In West Ohio, I’ve run studies of pastors and churches to see if patterns existed. This was done by looking at the payment history three years prior to a pastoral change, all during the pastor’s tenure at a church, and then three years following the pastor’s leaving for every appointment in the pastor’s career. Different conditions gave different results.

A. If a pastor with a history of paying apportionments in full was appointed to a church that had a history of paying in full the church always continued to pay 100%.

B. If a pastor with a history of paying less than 100% was appointed to a church that had a history of paying in full, the church stopped paying at the 100% level within the first year of appointment. If the pastor was appointed somewhere else within three years, the church returned to 100% payments within a year following the pastor’s departure. If the pastor stayed more than five years with the church paying less than 100%, it seldom returned to 100%.

C. If a pastor with a history of paying 100% was appointed to a church that had a history of paying less than 100%, the church usually moved to payment in full within two years and sometimes within the first year of the appointment.

D. The combination of a church and pastor with both having a history of less than 100% usually decreased payment from the highest point that either had ever attained. It often went to zero.”




Pays 100%

Pays 100%

Pays 100%

Pays <100%

Pays 100%

Pays <100%

Pays 100%

Pays <100%

Pays 100%

Pays <100%

Pays <100%

Pays <100%

Stan’s conclusions were that if appointments were based solely on placement in order to gain payout percentages, you would put:

(1) 100% pastors in 100% churches and less than 100% churches who have high apportionment balances and

(2) less than 100% pastors only in less than 100% churches with the smallest payout pastors going to churches with the smallest apportionment levels.

Our Annual Conference continues to have a low level of apportionment participation (when compared with other SEJ Conferences). I am sure that the findings of this study would apply directly to our Annual Conference. We have some pastors who have not led a church to full mission giving participation in their entire ministry; we have many more pastors who have never served a church, in any location or situation, that has not fully participated in our giving.

What this says to me is that the Cabinet (our DS’s receive salaries that are based, in part, on their proven ability to lead churches to participate in apportioned giving) need to take greater note of a pastor’s record of stewardship leadership in appointing pastors.

It also reminds us that apportionment participation is a testimony to a pastor’s leadership gifts in this area. Pastors who are truly committed to mission giving produce churches that pay 100% of apportionments regardless of that church’s financial situation. Pastors who aren’t committed to mission giving produce churches that are unfaithful in this area. Period.

Will Willimon

How has your congregation done in its giving patterns last Sunday, last month, over the past seven years? Click into the NAC website at “Church Stats” and find out.


Anonymous said...

I did look at our history. They have never given 100%... even though I encouraged it... and taught/asked more than once that we give it before we paid the light bill. I modeled that behavior in my giving... and talked about it in worship and Bible study.

I think a church will step up to the give its proportionate share... if they see themselves other than a private club. If a leader can get them to move beyond that... then the giving will follow. If a leader can't lead that change... then I don't think they will ever give 100%.

ray said...

All this talk about who is giving what and why or why not is overwhelming.I am not a pastor but if I was one of those with the finger pointed my way it would be quite discouraging,and if I was a new christian I would be quite perplexed. Not one mention in this post about why we give but a lot about how we give and how that should relate to pastors salaries.Sounds like a commissioned sales plan with levels of hiarchey.Wow!have we lost touch? Remember the good ole days when people led churches becaused they wanted to serve God,they all had jobs even John Wesley not to mention all the great preachers in the Bible.Spiritual health is the issue not giving.

ray said...

Food for thought all DSs, Bishops and pastors.If money had absolutely nothing to do with it,what would your career be? Or better still would you serve for free?

Rev. Nathan Mills said...

I am not persuaded that UM clergy live in the lap of luxury. The top end of pay for UM pastors in my conference is much more humble than that of any other churches I know given the amount of people in those congregations. As a person on the lowest end of the pay scale, I find that a respectable thing in light of the Good News and the beatitudes.

As long as we live on earth we will have to deal with money, but it is how we deal with money that is important.

In a perfect world, I imagine money is not necessary. In a broken world, money is necessary to mend what is broken, or to cause further brokenness; I believe that the spirit of the apportionment is to mend what is broken in this imperfect world, so that we are not tempted to spend all monies to entertain ourselves.

Unknown said...

The scariest thing to me is that the issue of effective leadership is tied to that of raising funds in the church. The measuring stick used is not the measure of ministry and spiritual growth, but instead the measuring stick of the height of the money pile. This is a problem on the one end of the issue. That of Bishop's and DS and others who look at this as the measure of effective pastoring. I have seen an urban church grow in great numbers and reach out to many, but all their offerings have gone to provide more ministry, not apportionments.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe the correct measure is the measure of sacrifice and attitude of the heart, as in the Widow's Mite.

I agree that many churches could and should pay more on their apportionments to give their "fair-share" as it is to the ministry of the "church". It is a matter of priority within the local church and a matter of attitude. Many local churches have an attitude of giving out of "what is left over" in their giving. If this stewardship attitude is carried out by the church board and finance committee, then of course this attitude is carried out by the individual in their stewardship as well.

Is there waste in the apportionments, of course there is, same as there is waste in the local church. There was waste in the religious leaders of Jesus' day, but we have our faith in God to work beyond all of that, and all of us.

B'ham Billy said...

I believe the only fix for the financial crisis within the church is a long overdue restructuring of the way it operates.

ray said...

I think you are on to something BB.May be time for the Church to re-establish priorities,and do a little restructuring.Most households in the US are having to do just that.Ten plus percent un-employment and an economic slow down has forced everyone to re evaluate their financial situation.No stimulus for the Church,but I am convinced God is in control.

HeavyHeart said...

My opinion of the current leadership of the UMC is validated by your blog. As a member of a church in your conference, I am appalled with the “for profit” mind-set of the UMC. With church apportionment tied to pastor remuneration, it is no wonder that the active membership roll of my church has not been purged in recent years. The last membership list presented at my church contained the names of individuals and families that have long ago moved their membership and are currently active in other churches. I suspect that the total membership level of my church is far less than what is being reported on “Dashboard”, thus we are paying more than our share of apportionment to the conference. Although this makes the pastor look good in the eyes of the Bishop and the conference, these monies could be spent in the ministries of the local church.

I am a lifelong member of the church with my wife joining as part of our wedding celebration. We embarked on our journey through life with our church as the focal point and basis of all of our activities and relationships. We raised our children with the same focus on church and faith. After hours of discussion and debate, my wife and I will be leaving the UMC when all of our current obligations to the local church are exhausted.

Casey Taylor said...


I wonder if you could tie apportionments to your previous post on non-profit giving.

I'm a new UM pastor. I didn't grow up UM. Frankly, the whole connectional system of giving is baffling to me. It seems a confusing mess. It seems oppressive to many churches. But again, back to your previous post, no one is SELLING the positive rationale behind this vague thing called "apportionments."

Why should churches give to something they don't see as missionally valuable? Put another way, if apportionments were optional for churches, how might recipient ministries of those apportionment funds sell their ministries to churches?